From 1971 through 1976 there was ever increasing flight traffic at a 500 foot hill in San Bernardino called Little Mountain (by the radio towers) with only the really daring pilots launching from the Camp Paivika parking lot out into Devil Canyon. Pine Flat was the better place to get a mountain flight because of the better glide to the valley but the road was challenging.
By 1976, with the city of San Bernardino subject to legal pressure to close Little Mountain, the pilots formed the San Bernardino Hang Gliding Association (Chapter 16 of the USHGA) in attempt to organize and apply pressure to keep Little Mountain open. In Feb 1978, a city ordinance was adopted that all hang gliding activities are illegal within San
Bernardino City Limits.
Pilots with better equipment and the legal need to stay away from Little Mountain headed for the San Bernardino Mountains. No longer being allowed to launch at Camp Paivika sent most pilots to a site known to the locals as Teddy Bear. This is the current location of the Crestline launch site.
In the late 70’s activity was booming, with typically more than 50 pilots flying from Teddy Bear each weekend day. Landing areas changed every few months, including the northwest corner of Palm and Irvington and a field on Pine (dirt road) about 1/4 mile north of Irvington.
In August of 1979 the San Bernardino Hang Gliding Association (SBHGA) hosted the US Nationals, with the Pine Ave. field the designated LZ.
In Oct of 1979 with the help of Bill Bennett, Andy Jackson bought a parcel of land at the mouth of Devil Canyon. Pine Crest Air Park was born. The pilots now had a legal place to land. The ‘Pine Crest’ name came from the two most-used launches – Pine Flats and Crestline. Marshall Peak was little used in those days, and the gate was often locked all summer and it was a long glide to the LZ (for gliders of that era) if you didn’t get up right away.
Wanting to secure the launch area for the future, members of the SBHGA approached the U.S.F.S. to get a permit for the Crestline launch at Teddy Bear. After a year and a half of red tape, the permit was issued to the SBHGA in June of ’80.
Former USFS employee Paul Schaefer was heavily involved with processing our permit application, and recalls that the CSS competed against a hang glider manufacturer who wanted to construct a building and other facilities on the site (who might that have been?!?) and that ‘at the time, this was the first launch site open to the public (with membership in CSS) on FS land in the US. Part of the red tape involved in getting that first permit was convincing the powers that be of the legitimacy of the club and the sport.’
The pilots now regulated the Launch and Andy & Juanita Jackson regulated the landing area.
The USFS permit required that a launch area parking lot be made, as the parallel parking on the sides of the 2 lane Playground Rd. were considered inadequate for the traffic. The fiasco of the congestion during the ’79 Nationals from Crestline was the main reason for the parking lot requirement.
The parking lot was dug by front-end loader in the fall of ’83. A railroad tie retaining wall was installed by hand by the pilots on a foggy, rainy day just a few days before the USFS deadline ran out.
Changes and Growth
In 1983 the San Bernardino Hang Gliding Association changed its name to the Crestline Soaring Society (CSS).
In 1984 the CSS hosted the US Nationals and with the $5000 earned paved the launch area parking lot as required by the USFS Permit.
Andy died of Cancer in September 1985.
The windtalker, (909) 338-3362, donated by Orange County Hang Gliding Assn., Wills Wing, and Hang Flight Systems, was installed near launch at Camp Paivika by Editor Jim LaGuardia and Activities Director Chris Armenta in 1987.
The End of Pine Crest
Juanita continued operation of Pine Crest Air Park. In Feb. ’89 she was told by the State of California Department of Water Resources (DWR) that her land would be taken to expand a water pipeline project and that the hang gliding activities would terminate.
The CSS, Juanita Jackson, and our USHGA Director Joe Greblo worked together for several months and in the spring of ’90 the DWR decided to relocate the hang gliders onto a new landing area.
Andy Jackson Airpark
The new landing area, called the Andy Jackson Airpark, was officially opened in July of ’94.
In the summer of ’96 CSS member Gary Beese almost single-handedly constructed the cool shade structure in the LZ. Thanks Gary!
We’d like this history to be a living document, so please feel free to submit comments with additions or ammendments or historical tidbits that ought to be included. Submissions will either be worked in to the main document or presented as links within the document. Alternative views of the History of the CSS are welcome. You’ll be given credit and perhaps your additions will give credit to the Unsung Heroes of the CSS.